During the month of November, the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System joined the family of the Ana G. Méndez University System, as the institution officially became the new host institution of the Consortium for the next years to come. After being elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, José F. Méndez, President of such institution, together with the members of the Board, proposed moving the headquarters of the HETS Consortium to the AGMUS’s facilities, particularly within the institution’s Center for Distance Education and Telecommunications (CETED, by its Spanish acronym). This change comes in a moment of significant growth for the Consortium itself, since it is developing now and will be implementing next semester its new strategic plan.
The 55-year history of the Ana G. Méndez University System has resulted in the testimony of constant innovation, growth, and transformation for the education of the student population in Puerto Rico and beyond, especially those lifelong learning adults that continuously look for improved opportunities. It has won its place in the Island as a solid post-secondary institution centered in their student population needs, making effective use of state-of-the-art technology, physical, and managerial resources to accomplish its mission. Through a persistent strategic identification and satisfaction of educational and professional needs, AGMUS has been able to come up with the development of pioneering academic programs, offered along its three main universities, Universidad Metropolitana (UMET), Universidad del Turabo (UT) and Universidad del Este (UNE); 12 satellite off-campus learning centers; its television network and center for educational telecommunications; and two educational centers in the state of Florida. Today, the total student population of AGMUS reaches over 31,000 students.
In 2003, AGMUS successfully exported its innovative academic programs to the Metro Orlando University Center, where an accelerated bilingual adult curriculum is offered. The Metro Orlando Center consists of a unique paradigm to which each of its three main universities contribute, providing a curriculum that caters to professional adults who want to complete their university studies for a degree. Tailored along the lines of the AHORA program, which was pioneered by AGMUS in Puerto Rico in conjunction with Regis University, a leader in adult education, the Metro Orlando project is the only one of its kind in the nation, offering a particularly innovative discipline-based dual language English-Spanish immersion model, geared to produce bilingual professionals. Following this experience, an in aims of bringing its benefits to other Hispanic communities in the United States and abroad, AGMUS inaugurated its South Florida campus in Miramar on October 26, 2006.
An important part of AGMUS’s visionary perspective is its focus on expanding its reach and students’ possibilities through the strategic use of distance education technologies, both online and through educational television. Currently, the Telecommunications and Distance Learning Center (CETED by its Spanish acronym) is a recognized leader in the application of distance learning techniques, working closely with AGMUS universities. CETED collaborates with the AGMUS universities and their professors to establish a system-wide policy for the further development of distance learning methods. More than 50 faculty members have been certified in distance learning techniques thanks to the efforts of this system unit, and more than 300 online courses have been created. Furthermore, as part of the system’s partnership initiatives, CETED also entered into a collaborative agreement with Nova Southeastern University for the development of educational television programming and the further expansion of new programs in distance education. Finally, beyond creating and delivering distance learning offerings for its students, and preparing its faculty to excel in teaching in virtual environments, AGMUS model is focusing in establishing models and processes to provide effective virtual student services to support success in its distance learning programs.
Looking forward to the internationalization of its programs, the System is dynamically establishing alliances with post-secondary institutions and governmental organizations from other Spanish-speaking countries around the world to make, while exchanging valuable knowledge on social and economic advancement areas. Partnerships have already been implemented with institutions in Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, the Dominican Republic, the United States, Spain, Australia, Argentina, and Brazil, among others. For instance, AGMUS partnered with several foreign ambassadors to the United States in Washington, D.C. in order to identify future areas of common interest for development activities.
Through one of its main universities, Universidad del Turabo (UT), AGMUS has also established numerous collaborative agreements with others institutions of higher education, such as an agreement with Florida International University (FIU) to enable faculty from the School of Engineering at Turabo to complete their doctorate degrees, supported by scholarships, at this institution. The relationship established with FIU is leading to further cooperative ventures with engineering schools in Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Honduras (LACCEI). Also, an agreement with Universidad San Pablo in Spain enables UT professors to complete PhDs in Business Administration.
The combined resources and experience of AGMUS as an innovator in higher education and its academic excellence philosophy will keep centering on the use of the latest technology and non-traditional learning experiences to respond to the needs of a varied population locally, nationally, and internationally. These efforts, together with innovative strategies in education tailored to HETS members, will synergize to produce new options for college and lifelong learners.
For more information on HETS new location and latest efforts in distance education, stay tuned to www.hets.org, or you can reach the new HETS office through (787) 766-2600, extension 8911. For further details on the Ana G. Méndez University System, go to www.suagm.edu.